#137: Gone Surfing…

137.1  This week, a couple of things I noticed while hitching along the “information super-highway”…remember when it was called that? Starting with this “And Bob’s Your Uncle” site: here. Most of this looks OK…truth is, I read thru it a while back and I seem to recall nothing really bad popping out at me…EXCEPT for a mistake…and perhaps half another mistake…in the “Cousins” section…can you find it? Answer next week…even if he changes it, which he seems reluctant to do, I got a screen capture…ha!

chart 477.png

137.2  In the comments section, we find Cathy wondering what relation her grandfather Clint had to his step-father Arthur, given that Arthur was also Clint’s dad Lloyd’s “cousin.” She thinks it would be “cousin once removed”…and taking “cousin” to mean “first cousin,” she is correct. The she gets an update from her uncle, turns out it was “second cousin”…see, that’s why I get so picky when I see the naked word “cousin,” without a number. You’ll notice that she says Arthur was “second cousin” to her grandfather, who would be Clint. I’m sure she meant to her great grandfather, Lloyd…otherwise why would she be “even more confused” about Clint and Arthur…her uncle just told her, second cousin.

137.3  But with all due respect, she has absolutely no reason on earth to be more confused in the first place…it’s the same as before, now second cousin once removed. In fact, there’s no “figuring” needed…this is the definition of second cousin once removed: your father’s second cousin…period. Then Robert, whose site this is, picks up the ball and says this gives him a headache. Well, sure…he gets a headache trying to recall the definition of a cousin removed, a definition he himself stated just paragraphs before.

137.4  He goes on: “I would have to know the exact connections between everybody…” Huh? NO!! You know everything that’s needed…in fact, there’s nothing more here to know. But then, after all that tap-dancing, he gets it right after all, altho he doesn’t say it right. “Clint is Arthur’s 2nd cousin once removed”…that is true…“and your second cousin thrice removed”…well, no, Clint is Cathy’s grandfather remember? It’s Arthur who’s Cathy’s second cousin 3 times removed…and the word “thrice” went out with the Age of Chivalry.

137.5  You know, there was once a radio show, then on TV, called “It Pays To Be Ignorant.” This was a comedy show, a spoof of the then popular quiz shows. Today, we can update that to “It’s Cool To Be Stupid”…I haven’t the foggiest idea why, except maybe with so many people today being so stupid, you feel like you fit right in. And even if you aren’t stupid…and I don’t think Cathy and Richard are, well not as much as they seem to think they are…you can still pretend to be stupid, because…it’s cool! Now I know saying this will be going against the grain, but being stupid it not cool…it hurts you in the short term, in the long term, every which way. End of editorial.

cathy II.png

137.6  But what I really like is Cathy goes on to review more of her extraordinary family tree. I’ve diagrammed most of it in Chart 478…and at one point she states some conclusions that turn out be be correct, generally speaking, in a roundabout sort of way…“This makes Madge and Walt my grandparents and my aunt & uncle.” OK, Madge is your grandmother, no doubt about that. Walt is your father’s step-father, so your step-grandfather, altho many families don’t extend step-‘s that far. As to aunt and uncle…as your step-mother’s brother and his wife, I reluctantly suppose so. Normally, you’d be a blood relative to one of an aunt/uncle pair…the one who is your parent’s sibling…here you are are blood to neither. If in your mind they really need to be your aunt and uncle,  there’s wiggle-room for that.

chart 478.png

137.7  Then she says: “It also makes my stepmother my father’s step-aunt.” Again, if you consider a person’s step-father’s sister their step-aunt (why not just “aunt”?) then fine. I admit it does sound better than saying your father married his step-father’s sister…which might be a little too close for comfort to some folks, albeit completely legal.

137.8  So as you can see, this site has it’s delightfully wacky moments…and before we leave it, there is one last comment, which has yet to receive a reply from the site owner or anyone else…yeah, I’m tempted…but as my previous comments there seem to have either been misunderstood or fallen on deaf ears, seems unlikely.

chart 479.png

137.9  The first 5 words of R’s comments are very significant: “I’ve read about double cousins…” So had I, only read about them…until a couple years ago when I found out that one of my friends was in that genealogical boat. Say you have a cousin, because his father and your father are brothers. Your mother and your cousin’s mother are very likely unrelated…but what if they are related, say sisters! Then you are “double 1st cousins”…cousins on both your fathers’ side and your mothers’ side. And mind you, nobody here has married anybody they’re related to. This isn’t what I call “interbreeding.”

137.10  What it is is the one of the commonest examples of 2 people being related to each other in more than one way…something I’ve found just doesn’t occur to people, unless they have it in their own family. Now the case that R sketches out has an overall name: Enhanced Half-Siblings. A fancy name for an uncommon situation, but it does happen. As half-siblings, Y and Z have the same father, and different mothers. Most of the time, those 2 mothers are not related to each other. But they can be…as here, they are sisters.

137.11  So R asks if Y and Z are half-siblings thru their father…the answer is yes. Are they cousins thru their mothers? Again, yes…1st cousins. “Or something entirely different, like double half-sibling cousins?” Now I mean no offense to R…he is only doing what many people do…when they don’t understand how a system works, they just take a stab at it and make something up. A bit of intellectual honesty ought to incline one to simply admit that one doesn’t know, and not take a wild guess, which may very well end up appearing comical to those who do know.

137.12  But “or something entirely different” is interesting…some people will actually deny you can be related to someone in more than one way…it has to be just one way. Or if technically it is 2 ways, only the closest way “really counts.” Here tho it really is different…Y and Z are related to each other by 3/8, or 1/4 + 1/8…which is different from half-siblings (1/4) or 1st cousins (1/8). So while generically you would say “Enhanced Half-Siblings,” this is also specifically called “3/4 siblings”…an unfortunate misnomer of course, because they are not related by 3/4…for that you need some serious interbreeding…like your parents are brother and sister…or think the sister/daughter deal from “Chinatown.”

137.13  The “3/4” refers to the fact that Y and Z are half-way between half- and full siblings…3/8 is half way between 2/8 (1/4) and 4/8 (½)…just as 3/4 is half way between ½ and 1, you see? So there’s your answer, R…and thanks for asking!

137.14  Finally, some illuminating badinage…

2nd uncle.png

As to OP’s original query…they are very few and far between, but I have seen native speakers of English who would answer yes…these “2nd uncle” sightings are both contemporary and historical…and my hunch is that they get it from the Spanish, where they have no “cousins removed.” In Spanish, your father’s 1st cousin is your “second uncle” (tio segundo)..and you are his “second nephew” (sobrino segundo )…moving across, your dad’s 2nd cousin is your 3rd uncle, his 3rd cousin your 4th uncle, etc…and you the correspondingly numbered nephew. And really, this jibes with the idea that all the adults of your parents’ generation would be some sort of uncle/aunt to you, not just your parents’ siblings.

chart 480.png

137.15  Now Reply 2 has it exactly right…referring to Chart 480, Y‘s son C is 1st cousin once removed to Y‘s 1st cousin A. To be precise, the older generation would be a 1C 1R ascending, the younger generation 1C 1R descending. B and C, as the children of 1st cousins, are 2nd cousins…as would also A and Z be 2nd cousins.

137.16  Reply 1 does acknowledges that Reply 2 is right, but doesn’t “like the removed part”…yeah, its all about feelings, nez pah? Well guess what? Reply 1 is well within her rights, and doesn’t have to ever say “removed” if she doesn’t want to…for specificity, she can just say: my 1st cousin’s kid. And she’s also completely correct that in everyday usage, as opposed to genealogical talk, the actual age difference can be deciding factor, not the generation belonged to…so that her much younger 1st cousins, while of her generation, can call her “aunt” if they want. Youth respects age…I can dig it.  But caution: saying that when discussing your family tree to gong to screw things up…you aren’t an aunt to your 1st cousins…you’re a 1st cousin.

137.17  Now consider Reply 3, in whose family “older” 2nd cousins are called “uncle.” And who’s a 2nd cousin exactly? Well, all of your father’s 1st cousins are likely to be older than most of your father’s 1st cousins’ children…I say most not all because there could be some generational overlap. On the other hand, a 1st cousin can be older enough to be called “uncle” too…and an uncle can be young enough to be your “cousin.” Reply 3 suggests “nobody cares”…except maybe the family genealogist! And given that in this brief discussion there is no agreement on what a 2nd cousin is, we really don’t know exactly who Reply 3 is talking about.

137.18  So while we don’t know whether Reply 3 really knows what’s what, it’s a fact that Reply 4 and Reply 5 are woefully misinformed. (I get tired of saying “wrong” all the time…sue me.)  But…I have a Dream…

137.19  Actually, more like a Quest than a Dream…and that Quest is to find an incorrect family tree. What I mean is this: As much as you see people misidentifying who’s their 2nd cousin, you never see what their entire kinship structure would then look like, based on that crucial mistake. Are there any cousins removed at all? Who’s a 3rd cousin? The grandchild of your 1st cousin? Or is your child a 3rd cousin to your “2nd cousin”?  I’ve never seen such a “wrong 2nd cousin” tree…probably because the people who make this mistake simply don’t understand kinship, and don’t have the foggiest notion of where to take it from there. And if they would try to continue, they would contradict themselves at every turn…nothing would make sense…because, tough love here, they simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

137.20  Every tree I find, fleshed out to include all relatives, is correct…isn’t that a strange coincidence? 😉 😉  But I’m going to make a concerted effort this week…come back and see what, if anything, I can scrounge up…

wicked ballsy


I forgot to take note of when this is from…sorry…60’s or 70’s sometime. Since he burst on the scene in April of 1938, Supey has had a ton of relatives…even offspring…altho many are in “imaginary stories” and others inhabit parallel universes which may or not may still “exist,” depending on who’s currently running the show at DC. Even so, there really is a lot more to his family tree than this here, which just scratches the surface…another project to get to…someday, some way…


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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